Itawamba County purchases land for growth

county_itawamba_greenBy Adam Armour

Itawamba County Times

FULTON – Itawamba County officials are hoping a recent land purchase will accommodate future growth.

In late January, the board finalized the purchase of 261 acres approximately three miles south of Fulton. The purchase encompassed two separate land parcels: One of 231 acres and a second worth the remaining 30 acres. A portion of the land runs along the Tenn-Tom Waterway, providing access to the county’s port, plus railway system.

The cost of the purchase was $380,122, which is being funded using a portion of the money made during the sale of the Townhouse Furniture building in Mantachie, now home to Jackson Furniture. The building sold for just more than $690,000.

The last time the county made a land purchase of this size was in 2007, when officials bought 300 acres in Fawn Grove, now home to the industrial park that houses Toyota Boshoku.

According to Greg Deakle, executive director of the Itawamba County Development Council and director of the Itawamba County Port, the purchase represents an investment in future growth. The county has very few potential industrial sites available, he said, making it difficult to woo prospective companies into the area.

“Over the last two or three years, we’ve had around six prospects looking for 100-acre or greater sites,” Deakle said, adding that companies of this size are often shipping large materials, making waterway transportation an attractive, usually cheaper option.” Most people looking at 100 acre-plus sites are also looking for port and rail service …We’ve looked all up and down the waterway for sites. Unfortunately, there aren’t many large properties left along the waterway.”

County officials have actually considered purchasing this same piece of property in the past but have never bit the bullet. With new money available from the sale of the Mantachie facility, it seemed like a good time to move, Deakle said.

“From an economic development standpoint, it’s a space to show prospects,” Deakle said.

In his role as port director, Deakle said the land represents the ability to expand. With somewhere around 20 acres of space near the port currently viable for development, the new space will allow for future growth.

“It’s hard to look at where you want to go with only 20 acres available,” he said. “We needed this room to grow the port.”

The land, Deakle said, should be relatively easy to develop. Very little of the area is considered to be a wetland (developing a wetland area involves mitigation, a process that is often long and costly), and with the exception of the some of the general lay of the land, the area should be easy to make ready for prospects. In fact, one prospect has already looked at the site.

adam.armour@journalinc.com